It is now common knowledge that pregnant women, and women who hope to be pregnant should be making very sure that they are acquiring enough folic acid in their daily diet. Did you know that there are multiple health benefits to men and non-pregnant women as well?  Everyone should be making sure they have enough Folic Acid in their nutritional regimen, but.... Why?  What kind?  How much?  Is there such a thing as too much? When we are inundated with the necessity of something, it is important to understand the whole picture....partial pictures can be damaging to our well-being!! 

Why Folic Acid?

Most of us know that Folic Acid is very important in pregnancy. It helps to regulate embryonic nerve cell formation, which is necessary for normal development. Studies have shown that having enough folic acid in early pregnancy may be key to preventing the majority of neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

studies show that folic acid is beneficial in preventing and assisting hypertension, anemia (because it is needful in the proper formation of our red blood cells), and helpful in cancer prevention, especially colon and stomach cancers.

What kind of Folic Acid?

Folic Acid is actually a synthetic form of Folate, which is in the B vitamin family.  Some studies seem to indicate possible elevated risk of cancer from taking large amounts of Folic Acid.  Folate, on the other hand, when naturally occurring in our food, has no possible negative impact.  Nutrients derived from food sources are ALWAYS better for our body than synthetics.  Folate is one of the nutrients that we need that is also easy to eat!! 

Where do I get Folic Acid / Folate?

Folate is abundant in dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, endive, romaine, mustard greens and Collard greens.  Veggies like okra, broccoli, artichokes, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are full of it.  Bright, colorful fruits like tomatoes, red peppers, avocados, strawberries and blackberries provide folate.  Some seeds and grains, like sunflower seeds and cooked quinoa, are good sources of folate.  It's easy to see why a diet rich in fruits and grains is reported to help prevent cancer!!  Folate is key, and these foods are rich providers.

How much Folic Acid / Folate do I need?

The RDA of Folic Acid is around 600 micrograms per day.  The specific number that is recommended varies somewhat according to gender, weight, and physical condition.  Folic Acid is also known as B9, and should be taken in conjunction with other vitamins in the B family. A 100 calorie portion of most of the foods I mentioned above provides more than the RDA of folic acid, in easily absorbed, healthy, food form. 

Is there such a thing as too much folic acid / folate?

Short answer, there is such a thing as too much Folic Acid.  Any time we choose a synthetic form of a nutrient, there is possibility of too much.  More than 1000 micrograms of folic acid can mask a b12 deficiency, and more than 1500 micrograms a day can cause central nervous system damage.  That being said, if you are choosing to acquire your Folate from food sources, overdose is not an issue.  First of all, folate is not synthetic, and secondly, you can hardly overdose on food. 

Folic acid / folate is an essential ingredient to a healthy life!  Choose foods rich in folate, and enjoy the benefits!